Linda Gorchels blogs

Product management

Expert Advice for Product Managers (Part One)

The Product Manager's Handbook

At the end of every chapter of The Product Manager’s Handbook, I included an interview with a prominent business expert or consultant. Each offered a different perspective. Here are snippets of their words of wisdom when asked for their key tips. This is the first of a four-part series of expert advice for product managers.

The Many Sides of Brand Management

Mark Rothwell, 
Brand and product management expert

Mark Rothwell, AVP-Brand & Consumer Marketing, American Family Insurance

I think the best professional advice I ever received is: “Remain curious and tenacious.” This is important for product development, for creative promotions, and for interactions with diverse sets of people. Curiosity makes a person interested and interesting.

The best personal advice is: “Always be empathetic.”  That’s great advice for being a successful brand manager because it ensures that you always view things through the eyes of your customers.    

Product Managers Can Be Growth Leaders

Scott Davis
Brand consultant

Scott Davis, Chief Growth Officer, Prophet

CMOs and senior executives are clamoring for strategic growth plans that go beyond the budgetary considerations of dollars and cents.… Read the rest

Product Platforms: Definitions and Pros and Cons

There are two very different types of platforms: digital platforms in technology, and physical platforms in other fields.

Digital Platforms

A digital platform is an ecosystem designed to enable different groups to co-create value through “plug-and-play” capabilities. The technology infrastructure of the platform touches customers and developers beyond the firm’s boundaries. LinkedIn, FaceBook, Google and Amazon—in fact most technology businesses—have platform-based business models.

Physical Platforms

Physical platforms in other industries refer to product family or product portfolio platforms intended to reduce manufacturing and development costs for new products. In this case a platform is a common architecture, collection of assets, component designs, subsystems, or other elements shared by several products.

Example Automotive Platform Strategies

The automotive industry is well-known for its use of shared platforms across various car models.… Read the rest

Developing the Business Case for New Products

Developing and defending a new product business case can be an intimidating task for many product managers.  Let’s start with two common myths.

Myth One:  The more a precise business case is, the more accurate it is.

Ironically, this is not true. Business cases rely on assumptions and estimates about the future: forecasted sales, customer intent, and expected costs. Adding more decimal points may provide the appearance of precision, but the reality is there is still a lot of subjectivity to the numbers.

Myth Two: A successful business case always gets funded.

A successful business case is one that helps make the right decisions. Keep in mind that the purpose of the business case is to determine the business potential for a product concept.

Read the rest

Top Skills for Product Manager Success

Welcome to 2019! And your first steps to learn about successful product managers.

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you are—or would like to be—a product manager. What questions do you have entering the new year? Perhaps you wonder if you have what it takes for success. Or what type of company is right for you. Maybe you’re looking for that magic tool that will make your life easier.

I’ll touch on several of these topics this year, with a product management post on the first Friday of each month. (On the remaining Fridays, my posts will address cover other topics.)

Today’s topic focuses on what makes product managers successful. There are ample variations of this question on Quora. There are so many, in fact, that some answerers have recycled prior responses.… Read the rest

Product Management 101: What is Product Management?

what is product management

Is product management a job? A career? A discipline? It depends on whom you ask. The landscape is forever changing, yet forever staying the same.

My Story

When I started out in product management (quite a few years ago) it was pretty much uncharted territory. Except in consumer packaged goods.

While being a female with an MBA wasn’t exactly rare, it also wasn’t common. I had successfully run a marketing research department. I had customer knowledge. And several direct reports. Presumably that would be a good foundation for product management. But that was true only to a point. As a product manager with no direct reports, I had to attain my goals through influence. I had to work with all levels and types of people.… Read the rest

Templates, Templates Everywhere … But Not a Stop to Think (Using product management templates)

I see this happening over and over again. Product managers (and others) shift into firefighting mode, working harder and putting in more hours. In an attempt to simplify their lives they seek out preconfigured templates to make their jobs easier. They fill in the blanks of the templates (sometimes almost mindlessly) and then move on to more ‘urgent’ matters. But did they make better decisions or plans because of the product management templates?

Do product management templates cause better decisions?

Perhaps yes. Perhaps no.

Let’s take a step back to think about what templates are. Historically, templates were patterns or molds used in technical or mechanical work. They guided the effective duplication or reproduction of something. The term was later extended to guide the effective duplication or reproduction of processes, plans, and approaches.… Read the rest